Classical Reissue Reviews

Best of British – Richard Rodney Bennett, piano/ Pro Arte Orch./ Studio Two Concert Orch./ Light Music Society Orch./ English Sinfonia/ Northern Sinfonia/ Choir of King’s College Cambridge/ City of London Sinfonia/ George Weldon, Reginald Kilbey, Vivian Dunn, Eric Coates, Richard Hickox, Stephen Cleobury – conductors – EMI (5 CDs)

A really attractive EMI budget box perfect for those starving Anglophiles.

Published on September 5, 2012

Best of British – Richard Rodney Bennett, piano/ Pro Arte Orchestra/ Studio Two Concert Orchestra/ Light Music Society Orchestra/ English Sinfonia/ Northern Sinfonia of England/  Choir of King’s College Cambridge/ City of London Sinfonia/ George Weldon, Reginald Kilbey, Vivian Dunn, Eric Coates, Richard Hickox, Stephen Cleobury – conductors – EMI 50999 0 28989 (5 CDs), 5+ hours ****:

This is one of EMI’s “Best of” packages where they take releases which are 20-30 years old and gather them in a thematic collection. The good news is that they are offered very cheaply (I have seen this one for $17), have excellent and informative booklet notes, and being EMI, contain superb recordings done in fabulous sound of repertory that no other record company in the world can compete with. In this case we have five different discs under the following headings: British Light Music, British Piano Music of the 20s and 30s, English Miniatures, English Anthems, and English String Music.

Just glance at the heading and you will see the high quality of those who are involved in this many-years production. The listing below should show how valuable a collection this is, from standards like the Walton Serenade for Strings to the darkness of Constance Lambert. And a whole disc is given to some of the most stirring English choral anthems ever written, all performed by the incomparable Choir of King’s College, Cambridge, not to mention a generous sampling of the piano artistry of Billy Mayerl. Those even remotely interested in the Anglophile musical tradition can ill afford to be without this bargain stunner, thoroughly British and marvelously idiomatic. Treat yourself—you will not be sorry.

TrackList:

Bainton, E: And I saw a new heaven
Bax: Mediterranean
Bayco: Elizabethan Masque
Berkeley, L: The Lord is my Shepherd, Op. 91 No. 1
Binge: Miss Melanie; Elizabethan Serenade; The Water Mill
Bliss: The Rout Trot; Bliss
Britten: A Hymn of Saint Columba
Coates, E: Dance in the Twilight; Impressions of a Princess – Intermezzo; Wood Nymphs; Dam Busters March
Collins, A: Vanity Fair
Curzon: Punchinello – Miniature Overture; The Boulevardier
Dexter, H: Siciliano
Docker: Tabarinage
Duncan, Trevor: March from A Little Suite
Elgar: Introduction & Allegro for strings, Op. 47
Farnon: Portrait of a Flirt
Gardiner, H B: Overture to a Comedy
German: Dances from the music of Henry VIII
Goossens: Folk-Tune; By the Tarn, Op. 15 No. 1
Harris, W: Faire is the Heaven
Hartley, F: Rouge et Noir
Harvey, J: I love the Lord
Hope: Jaunting Car
Howells: Like as the Hart
Ireland: Greater Love Hath No Man
Lambert, C: Elegiac Blues; Elegy; Piano Concerto
Langford, A: Waltz for string orchestra
Leighton: Let all the world in every corner sing
Maw, N: One foot in Eden still, I stand
Mayerl: Marigold; Puppets – Suite No. 3 / Punch; Ace of Hearts; Piano Exaggerations: Antiquary; Shallow Waters; The Printer’s Devil; Piano Exaggerations: Sleepy Piano; Railroad Rhythm
Naylor, E W: Vox dicentis: Clama
Osborne, L: Lullaby for Penelope
Quilter: Three English Dances; Where the Rainbow Ends – suite
Tomlinson: Little Serenade
Vaughan Williams: Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis
Vinter: Portuguese Party
Walton: Old Sir Faulk; Siesta; Set me as a seal upon thine heart; Sonata for String Orchestra
Weir: Ascending Into Heaven
Williams, Gerrard: Déjeuner dansant
Wood, C: Hail, gladdening Light
Wood, Haydn: Joyousness; Montmartre

—Steven Ritter




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